Introduction

By Dr. Mary Ann Massey

Welcome, healthcare professionals. Here, we are devoted to you and your needs for respite, self-care, and renewal when the work you do takes its toll. We realize that you get paid for what you do, that this is your job or profession, and that you go home at night, leaving your patients to the care of others. Still, the amount of love that you give out during the day can take its toll. The loss of life that you experience regularly after tending to good people who are now in the presence of God, needs an outlet. Many of you put your hearts and souls into your work and are weary. Come, let”s share the journey, focus on you for a while, and help you shed some weariness.

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For Healthcare Professionals: Optimizing Your Role in Someone Else’s Family…

Featured Healthcare Professional: Dr. Mary Ann Massey

Audio Introduction of Featured Professional Dr. Mary Ann MasseyI’ve been in the healthcare business almost my entire adult life. My primary focus has been mental healthcare. What do I mean by that? To me, it means that I have counseled men and women through all stages of their maturing years; couples in crisis over love, communication, finances, children, and each other’s fidelity; families who struggle with similar issues with a higher frequency of child related conflict; and seniors looking to grow old gracefully.

Some of the seniors have no money, others never struggle financially. Some are alone while others have strong family connections. Some are confident and independent while others are frightened for their future. All of them must face life differently as they age. All of them have sought counseling to speak confidentially about issues they don’t wish to address with their family. My heart has gone out to them.

The world is changing all around our seniors. Science and technology have advanced to such an extent that our elders’ options continue to multiply each year. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Often, they don’t know how to embrace their new choices. They seek counseling to make sense of it all. Sometimes, they talk to come to terms with their families who ‘want the best for them’ but don’t receive well what my clients say they want. We work on clarifying their thinking so that they can communicate their desires better without feeling devalued by their adult children.

When my dad was in a nursing home/rehabilitation center for a year, I watched many families try to share their side of the story. In the dining room, one Sunday when I was visiting dad, a mother and daughter were sitting at a table near enough for me overhear their conversation. What I heard broke my heart. The mother was trying to tell her daughter how hard it was for her to be there, that she was lonely and lived for her daughter’s visits. She wanted her daughter to know that she’d welcome more frequent visits if her daughter could manage that. The daughter looked terribly frustrated, got defensive immediately, did not take a moment to let her mom know she understood. Instead, she dove right into her own story. She visited her mom three evenings a week, worked full time, was a single mom of three school-aged girls, and barely had time for herself. There wasn’t another hour in the week to read a book let alone come back to the nursing home. She told her mother that she felt like nothing she ever did was good enough. And there the impasse sat. Neither had much more to say. The daughter kissed her mom goodbye after dessert and told her she’d see her in a couple of days.

Incidents like the one above are more frequent in our world, whether parents live with their children or in another establishment. The mental health component of healthcare is as vital as the fields of nursing and doctoring, care managing, aides, home health caregiving, and the range of special folk who tend to the very ill or dying among us.

I met a physical therapist at a party a few months ago. She and I chatted a bit and before I knew it, she was telling me several stories that came from her patients. They wanted to talk about their families, how much of a burden her patients thought they were becoming with their many ailments, treatments, needs for doctors, et al. A week later I had a meeting with my attorneys. They specialize in elder care. When they read my book, they asked for copies to keep in their office. “We deal with these issues all the time,” they said, and proceeded to share with me heart-wrenching anecdotes. We talked about how we could collaborate so that they could respond better to those who came to them for estate planning…but needed so much more than plans to disperse their monies when they die.

I am in a wonderful profession. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Communication is challenging in every generation and definitely between generations. The older I get the more I appreciate the enormous differences among us in how we think, what we value, the traditions that have defined us, and the fears that compel us to cling too hard or detach too much.

I fell into this profession in a strange kind of way. When in my twenties, family members’ needs led me to Al-Anon. After several years of attending meetings, I realized I had great compassion for people but lacked the skills to really help them. Fortunately for me, I lived a mile from Syracuse University where one of the best graduate programs in the country existed. I applied, I was accepted, and I never looked back. I thrived at SU because my heart found the training that would allow me to do what I was meant to do.

What aspect of healthcare has called you? What aspects do you find challenging? Where do you wish you had more training or support? Your input on these and any other related topics would be highly valued as it our goal to build a thriving online community that may answer many questions and open the door to ideas yet unthought-of. Click here to contribute your thoughts…

Signature of Dr. Mary Ann Massey
Dr. Mary Ann Massey

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